The Guardian recently featured an article by Canadian superstar Nelly Furtado which censures YouTube for its lack of transparency and its shirking responsibility in fair payments to artists. “I know the truth hurts, but someone’s got to tell it,” she says. Nelly lists a number of recommendations for cleaning up the service. These include using its Content ID system in a more productive way and significantly increasing payments to labels and artists. She points out, “Saying that YouTube is used for video only is a fib”. Furtado suggests it ludicrous to defend YouTube practices by comparing it to radio, as the latter is programmed and one cannot choose any song in the world and instantly hear it, nor can one share it with friends, subscribe to an artist, or comment on it.
The music industry has criticized YouTube for hiding behind the “safe harbour” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which allows the service to “stream any content that users upload until a copyright owner requests it to be taken down”. YouTube runs ads attached to these illegal uploads meaning that it profits from pirated material. This material can also be easily downloaded with free YouTube to MP3 converter aps widely available on the net. Rather than taking responsibility for its own illegal content, YouTube will not take the initiative to remove it, which, as Nelly Furtado points out can be done feasibly with its Content ID technology. Instead, YouTube insists that copyright owners file takedown notices, one for each copy of each song. Thousands of illegal copies of a song can be uploaded every day. While YouTube does offer compensation to labels and artists for money made from illegal uploads, it is miniscule. It has been suggested that the only resort to getting the profiteers to change their methods would be a change in legislation. You can read the full post from Nelly Furtado here.